No water supply for residents in parts of quake-hit Cotabato as pipes, dams damaged

Kristine Sabillo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 02 2019 12:52 PM

A resident of quake-hit Makilala town, Cotabato fetches water from a truck deployed to their evacuation site near the municipal hall, November 1, 2019. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News

MAKILALA, Cotabato — Lines of people around water tanks have become a usual sight in this town after a 6.5-magnitude hit Mindanao on Thursday.

The last of a series of strong quakes that struck Mindanao within 16 days in October caused landslides in several areas, affecting water sources of the Metro Kidapawan Water District (MKWD), which serves Kidapawan City and three nearby municipalities.

“Wala po kaming supply so kailangan namin ng konting tulong (We don’t have water supply so we really need help),” Makilala town resident Restvil Joy Anub told ABS-CBN News on Friday afternoon while lining up near the municipal hall.

Anub, who is from the poblacion, said their house was also damaged so they now live in a tent.

“Napakalaking tulong po nito (This is a big help),” he said of the water tank sent by a private company.

With pipes displaced and sources like dams and springs buried under landslides, the local water district is finding it hard to restore water supply in majority of its service areas. It may take months for service to be restored, an official at the local water district said.

MKWD Asst. General Manager Lisandro Alqueza told ABS-CBN News in a phone interview that of the more than 100 villages that they serve, only five have water supply as of Saturday morning.

“The third earthquake on Oct. 31 was really the worst,” he said, adding that the earlier quakes also damaged their facilities.

Three major quakes struck Mindanao in the latter part of October, with smaller aftershocks in between.

Alqueza said landslides affected two dams and the Saguing river, as well as two kilometers of their transition line.

“Our people can’t even enter the area because of the aftershocks,” he said.

The spring that supplies their customers in Makilala town was also affected by the landslides, especially since it’s between two hills.

“Around four to five kilometers of our pipeline there was displaced,” he said.

Alqueza said they will have to reconstruct everything as the pipes fell down a cliff.

For now, only three of their seven water sources have been restored. This can only supply 20 percent of their regular demand.

Among their contingency measures is the deployment of water trucks to evacuation centers. Nearby water districts and provinces have also helped bring water to affected villages.

Asked how long it might take to restore services, Alqueza said it could be months even with emergency funds. At the very least, they hope to supply water for two to three hours a day to some villages in Kidapawan soon.

Makilala Vice Mayor Ryan Tabanay said they are now relying on provinces like Midsayap to ration water using their 10-wheeler tanks.

As for residents like Anub, any help is welcome.

“Kailangan namin ng tubig at trapal or tent na lang,” he said. “Sana may mga taong busilak 'yung kalooban na magbibigay ng tulong sa amin.”

(We need water, tarps or tents. We really hope there are people out there who can help us.)